where creative minds can interact
Dorothy Williams was one of our adopted grandmas. She had no family left when we met her. She lived two blocks from us in East Greenville, PA. She lived in a small, second floor Section 8 apartment that was part of the Baumans’ half-twin on Main Street. Her only income was from Social Security. She grew up in Philly. Every grocery store was an Acme to her, pronounced in three syllables. We got to know her when neither of us had cars and Pastor Dave Benner would come, in his big Suburban, and pick up the six of us and Dot to bring us to Finland Mennonite Church. After we got a car, we continued to pick up Dot. We would have her over for dinner. She doted on our girls and taught them important life lessons that we quote to this day, such as: “Tables are for glasses not for asses!” Just the kind of lesson you want your four-year-old repeating at Sunday School! She especially loved the littlest ones. “Ba-aby!” was also a three syllable word, as she reached out her arms to receive any little one near her.
We also ran other errands with Dot. Whenever Dot got a bit of money in her purse, she couldn’t resist treating us to dinner at her favorite Chinese restaurant, over in Quakertown, or the “Pound o’ Roses”. (Ponderosa Steak House) We would try to pay or, at least, handle the tip. She would have none of it. We were all poor. We learned not to argue. She made it clear that this was one of the few things in her life that gave her joy and we were not to take it from her! She was in her glory in the New Far East Restaurant! It was such a shame when it burned and closed. We didn’t tell her. By that time, she was too ill to handle the food. She would still press cash, that she couldn’t afford, into my hand for me to take the family out for dinner on her.
She came with us to Bethann’s folks house for Christmas and Easter and all the birthdays. She was part of the family. I mean, that’s what one does. People are not made to be alone. I grew up with so many Aunts and Uncles. I didn’t find out until I was in high school that we weren’t related to but a quarter of them! Their families had either rejected them or died, so they became part of our ragtag clan. Our lives have been so much the richer for this!
This painting is Dot snoozing after Christmas dinner in 1985.
It was not long after this that she got so ill that she could no longer take care of herself. She minimized her illness to us. She moved into the Montgomery County Geriatric & Rehabilitation Center formerly known as the Poorhouse. We visited her with our four little girls. She was obviously very ill. We had to wait for a bit to see her once, so we visited other patients. Some of them had not had any visits in weeks! They had been warehoused and forgotten. Our youngest, Hilary, would climb up into laps. Immediately, there were smiles and tears. No words. These patients couldn’t speak. The next time we came to visit we planned extra time to visit “Dot’s new neighbors”. The nurses thanked us so much. That was the last time we saw Dot. She died of some form of cancer.
She was a little rough around the edges, with a heart of gold!
If it weren’t for Dave & Priscilla Benner going the second mile, Dot would have been one of those forgotten, warehoused cast-off souls, and we would have missed out on being blessed by another Grandma. I have learned, one can never have too many Grandmas!
Painting is acrylic on 14″x11″ canvas.